Billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene faced some harsh criticism after reports last week that he said America's lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted, but Greene insisted to CNBC Wednesday that he was "completely misquoted."
"What I said was, 'the global equalization of wages and technology, which is growing at an exponential pace, has killed so many millions of jobs in America and other Western economies and it's going to kill them at an even faster pace going forward.' I said, 'we have our work cut out if we want to build a real economy, an inclusive economy that I grew up in, that I want to see for all Americans,'" he said in an interview with "Closing Bell."
The original interview, which appeared in Bloomberg and was conducted at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week, occurred in a busy, noisy room, Greene said. He was quoted as saying, "America's lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence.… We need to reinvent our whole system of life."
Greene told CNBC he does not think Americans have to adjust their expectations downward.
A Bloomberg representative told CNBC the company "stands by our reporting."
The comments struck a chord with many. Greene made a fortune during the recession in real estate and betting against subprime mortgages. His Beverly Hills mansion, which is on the market for $195 million, has 12 bedrooms, 23 bathrooms and a rotating dance floor. Also part of his real estate portfolio are three hotels in West Palm Beach.
While Greene called the growth in technology a "massive job-killing machine," he said he doesn't think it is hopeless.
"We can embrace technology. Technology can be a great equalizer when it comes to health care, education to the point where rich, poor, middle class can all get the same benefits," he said.
Greene, a developer of apartment buildings, also believes the housing recovery will be "slower than we'd like it to be."
One reason people are staying in their apartments is because a lot of the apartment buildings now have huge amenity packages, he said. The other reason is people are still shellshocked from the crash.
The entrepreneur also said he would support higher taxes on the wealthy.
"We absolutely—unfortunately for wealthy people—need to have higher taxes, and I'm certainly prepared to pay higher taxes and I hope that other wealthy people are," he said.
Those taxes would help provide lifelong educational opportunities, which would help build a stronger middle class, he added.
—CNBC's Robert Frank contributed to this report.